September 30, 2020

Elzhi "Seven Times Down Eight Times Up" (Album Stream)

Here's the press release for the new LP from Elzhi: "Elzhi, the “Syllable Sensei,” is back again with a highly anticipated release titled “Seven Times Down Eight Times Up,” This 12-track LP is a collage of memories and metaphors layered atop beats crafted by up-and-coming producer JR Swiftz. With collabs from Detroit artists, Monica Blaire and Fes Rock on two of the albums stand-out tracks, Elzhi’s new masterpiece showcases his ability to create meaningful concepts while Detroit’s own comedian and “Real Hip Hop Advocate” Foolish provides commentary throughout the album. As one of Elzhi’s most cohesive releases to date, his wordsmithing abilities paint images of royalty, excellence, and zombies wearing Gucci, all with an underlying message of resilience. “Seven times Down Eight Times Up” is the mantra for a year that has seen lots of “downs,” and reminds us that no matter what we're faced with, we will remain undefeated, and get back up after being knocked down by this machete-wielding maniac we call “life.” Elzhi is one of my favorite lyricists and Seven Times Down Eight Times Up is a solid project - sans some sequencing mistakes. Dig into it below...

September 28, 2020

Kool G Rap "4, 5, 6" (25th Ann. Mix by DJ Filthy Rich)

Here's another classic anniversary mix from the homie, DJ Filthy Rich, who shares the following message along with his new mix: "This album is so underrated. Kool G Rap's earlier work with DJ Polo is without a doubt the cornerstone of his catalog, but this album is right up there with them. He switched things up by working with a team of producers, and Kool G Rap admits this is the first time he felt like a true artist. Not one skippable track, and crazy production from Buckwild, T-Ray, Dr. Butcher & Naughty Shorts. CLASSIC. If you think differently, listen to the mix and tell me I'm wrong." Dig into the mix of album cuts, samples and blends below. Props to Filthy Rich and G Rap.

September 17, 2020

Wojavelli "The Best Of Alchemist" (Mixtape)

The Best of Alchemist mixtape features roughly two and a half hours of the best of Alc's first 10 years of hits, deep cuts and original blends by Wojavelli out in Philly. The Alchemist's extensive catalog is represented with cuts featuring Mobb Deep, Cormega, Nas, Capone-N-Noreaga, Jadakiss, Kool G Rap, Ghostface Killah, and lots more. Need I say more? Dig into Wojavelli's ALC mix below...

September 15, 2020

DJ Shok Presents "Hi-Tech's Golden Era Singles" (EP Stream)

Here's the first ever anthology release of Yonkers MC Hi-Tech's golden era 12" joints. The release includes 8 tracks, along with the instrumental versions. The production is handled by DJ Shok and Jay Biz and will be available on 2LP vinyl, CD, cassette and digital. If you've been following the blogs over the years going back to my very first site, I've been pushing Hi-Tech's music and DJ Shok's classic production for years. "4 Degrees For The Streets" is still one of the best B-side tracks to come from the underground, independent scene in the 90s, but you'll also recognize "24/7," "Book of Life," "All Time Einstein" and more as well. Big ups to DJ Shok, who has a dope catalog you should already be familiar with. Pick up a copy of this limited release and check Tech's technique below...

September 13, 2020

The Notorious B.I.G. "Ready To Die" (9/13/94)

"...Though many rappers exaggerate about the lives they led before becoming performers, some are actually former drug dealers. Few have ever been as open in detailing their criminal past as Biggie Smalls, and none have ever been as clear about the pain they felt at the time. "He doesn't want anyone to see that he's not as tough as he thinks he is," said Ms. Wallace, the rapper's mother. "He cries inside. He bleeds inside. But he doesn't want anyone to see the vulnerable side of him." "Ready to Die" is, indeed, marked by pathos unusual not only in hip-hop but in pop music. "In street life you're not allowed to show if you care about something," said Mr. Combs, of Bad Boy Entertainment. "You've got to keep that straight face. The flip side of that is his album. He's giving up all his vulnerability. He's letting you know how he has felt about his mother. He's letting you know how he cried. How he has thought about killing himself." Though drug dealing carries tremendous heroic value with some young urban dwellers, he sacrifices the figure's romantic potential. His raps acknowledge both the excitement of drug dealing and the stress caused by the threat from other dealers, robbers, the police and parents, sometimes one's own. In presenting the downside of that life, "Ready to Die" offers perhaps the most balanced and honest portrait of the dealer's life of any in hip-hop. "He's trying to enlighten people to the way your mind thinks when you're broke, when you're young growing up and not feeling like nobody cares about you," Mr. Combs said. Cont'd below...

On "Everyday Struggle," for example, Biggie Smalls rhymes: "I know how it feel to wake up . . . / Pocket broke as hell/ Another rock to sell/ People look at you like you's the user/ Selling drugs to all the losers/ Mad Buddah abuser/ But they don't know about your stress-filled day/ Baby on the way/ Mad bills to pay/ That's why you drink Tanqueray/ So you can reminisce/ And wish/ You wasn't living so devilish." By expressing the self-loathing and self-doubt he felt while dealing, he hopes that his experiences may resonate with other living that life. "I want them stressed-out n!@@ers to be, like, 'Yo, this n!@@er be hitting it right on the nose, man,' "he said. "That's what I'm trying to do." And he added, venting those feelings was also therapeutic. "I got a lot off my chest with that album." And he has put a lot in his pocket. Next month he will move his mother from the apartment in which she has lived for 25 years and into a house in the Park Slope section of Brooklyn. But despite new-found economic independence and the fear he feels while sitting in his own home, he is reluctant to move. "I could never see myself moving in the suburbs," he said. "It ain't going to be right, and the lyrics are going to be soundin' nasty. I know it. There won't be nothing to rap about except the birds." - NY Times (12/18/94). Full story can be read HERE.

September 12, 2020

Reks "T.H.I.N.G.S." (Album Stream)

On his twelfth studio LP in nearly 20 years, Reks sounds just as hungry and passionate on T.H.I.N.G.S. (The Hunger Inside Never Gets Satisfied) as he did when Along Came The Chosen dropped back in 2001. Perhaps even more so. There seems to be a fire that gets lit under the Lawrence, MA native whenever he begins crafting a new LP. “While my conceptualizing process has grown over the years, the actual approach to getting started has remained consistent,” Reks says. “There’s a youthful eagerness that comes over me every time I’m about to start a new record.” That feeling is palpable throughout T.H.I.N.G.S., an album bursting with everything you’d want from a Reks record, but also so much more. There are certainly instances of his trademark wordplay mixed with bravado on here, like the Apollo Brown-produced track “King of the Town.” But the real core of this record is Reks’ reckoning with bigger societal issues that have simply run rampant for far too long. And given his talents with the pen, he’s able to blend strong songwriting with deep, conceptual lyrics. Just listen to how he tackles white privilege on the otherwise catchy “Rachel Green” or the way he chronicles being Black in America on “White House.” That’s not even mentioning “The Complex,” a lyrically gripping look at PTSD and Big Pharma featuring Pharoahe Monch, and his personal favorite track, “Nana & Grampy’s Song,” a heartfelt dedication to Black love. For Reks, it’s all about delivering the best possible music to his fans while staying true to himself. And he does exactly that not just through his own gifts, but also through collaborations with Pharoahe, Lil Fame, Nottz, Apollo Brown, Statik Selektah, Evidence, Marco Polo, and more.

September 11, 2020

Jay-Z "The Blueprint" (September 11, 2001)

Jay-Z is arguably on top of the rap game. With his past five albums all achieving platinum-plus status, the Brooklyn, N.U., native looks to quiet anyone who dare challenge his reign with his latest set, The Blueprint. Such tracks as "The Ruler's Back" and "Takeover" are testament to this; both showcase a fearless Jay-Z, who, despite his crossover success, is still a highly credible MC. The Kanye West-produced "Takeover," which craftily employs a sample of The Doors' "Five to One," is perhaps Jay's best work to date. The Blueprint does have its requisite party tracks. Lead single "Izzo (H.O.V.A.)," which references the Jackson 5's "I Want You Back," is already making serious noise at both urban and top 40 formats. Throughout The Blueprint (which features guest appearances from Q-Tip, Biz Markie, and Slick Rick, among others), Jay-Z deftly proves that while his celebrity status continues to rise, he remains firmly grounded to the street." - Billboard (9/22/01). Next to Reasonable Doubt, this is widely considered one of his best LPs, revisit it below and let me know if you agree? The production from Kanye West, Bink!, Eminem and (especially) Just Blaze is incredible.

The article in Billboard and a pic from my IG are below...

September 05, 2020

Craig G "Fragile Ego" (EP Stream)

The Juice Crew MC drops off his brand new EP, Fragile Ego. With sharp cuts, solid production and introspective lyrics, Craig G releases probably the best project of his career, which is saying a lot as he came up back in the mid-80s. You can't count out a legend! Masta Ace is the only feature on the EP but he delivers on the title track. I hope that the media covers this release and celebrates a very fine offering from Craig G. "Do yourself a favor: stay away from the fake shit." Listen below...

September 04, 2020

Jazz Spastiks "Fly Fishing, Vol.6" (Mixtape)

Volume 6 in the Fly Fishing mix tape series from Chopped Herring Records. This mix was done by Jazz Spastiks and features tracks from 3rd I, Ill Bill, Big Sha, Arsonists, Kwest Tha Madd Ladd, A-Plus, Pos-Neg, TDK, Born God, Recognize Ali, Sick Lyrical Damager, Smoked Out Productions, L The Head Toucha, Hardcore Reps, KGB, Napoleon Da Legend, Custodian of Records, Yaggfu Front, Tuff Crew and more! Also available on limited edition cassettes, 150 copies only! Big up to Bill Lipitch.

September 03, 2020

Capone-N-Noreaga "Blood Money" (VHS, 2000)

Blood Money is a promotional VHS tape released by Capone-N-Noreaga in 2000 ahead of their sophomore release, The Reunion, on Tommy Boy. The 30-minute street reel features music videos for "Blood Money Part 3," "T.O.N.Y.," "L.A. L.A.," and "Closer," as well as behind the scenes interviews with Capone in jail, on video sets, MTV, and more. 20 years later, it's now more of a companion piece to their classic debut album, The War Report, from 1997. Dig into the tags/archives below for other promo materials, album samplers, reviews and more from the legendary Queens crew, Capone-N-Noreaga. Props, ReelBlack, for the video - watch it below. Respect to Capone, Nore, and DJ EFN.